Happy Places: Some of Our Favorite Indoor Play Spaces

I’m not sure about other mamas, but I struggle to get out the house with my littles when it’s bitterly cold or raining and when we do get out we head straight to one of our happy places. Both of my babies have had on and off cold-like symptoms this January so we’ve spent a considerable amount of time inside and at home (which reminds me that I need to get that air purifier I’ve been stalking). I try not to confine the girls to the house for too many days in a row and when we finally do get the courage to venture out, we can usually be found at one of our happy places in D.C., Maryland or Northern Virginia.  

Below are some of our favorite "happy places" - indoor play spaces for those rainy or cold days when outside play isn’t ideal.

Nook (Falls Church, VA)

We love Nook, period. The space is simple in design with play nooks that are updated (switched out for a new “nook”) each month and arts & crafts tables for the littlest of artists. Nook is a calm, relaxed environment that is not overstimulating like many other play spaces. The space is great for siblings because it is intimate but still somehow very spacious and for me and my two, it feels comfortable like we’re at home. There’s even coffee and tea for the adults. Nook also offers a full schedule of classes and recently started offering drop off nanny service! The place is cashless so be sure the pre-pay and reserve your spot or bring a card to play. I also love this place because it is woman-owned and she’s a mama, too! Play at Nook!

Gymboree (Northwest Washington, D.C.)

Who doesn’t love Gymbo? Gymboree was one of our very first ventures into indoor play and naturally, I was pretty excited since my own mama always reminds me about time spent there when I was a little one! They offer play and learn classes in addition to art, music and sports classes. We also had a birthday party at Gymboree last year and it exceeded my expectations (more about that in another post)! We recommend any class with Miss Lisa! This is another great woman/Mama owned business that we love to support. Play & Learn at Gymboree of Washington, D.C.

SkillZone (Barracks Row, Southeast Washington, D.C.)

We were super excited when this play space showed up on our side of town. It’s literally a five minute drive from home and it’s never too crowded. SkillZone recently became members-only club (with all memberships currently sold out which I find annoying), but it’s still a neighborhood favorite and we heard they are expanding into their second level. They offer open play, family socials, happy hour (yes, they have beer and wine!) and birthday parties. If you can get an open pass, take your littles and visit their website for more information on their upcoming expansion and new memberships. 

BusyBees (Chevy Chase, Northwest Washington, D.C./MD)

The girls love BusyBees and I can’t blame them. The place is a toddler’s dream - everything at BusyBees moves, spins ,or flies! There are open sight lines which makes it easy for me to manage the [two] girls even if they aren’t playing in super close proximity. If you have little ones who are cruising or just starting to walk, you’ll love that every inch of this place is covered in soft padding. The place is conveniently arranged so that you can see your little ones even if you’re in the sitting area, working or sipping tea (or coffee - both of which are complimentary). They also offer date night sitter service, which I’m noticing is a trend among indoor play spaces but honestly, I’m kind of weary of them all. BusyBees Play

National Building Museum (Downtown, Northwest Washington, D.C.)

The National Building Museum is one of our favorite museums with exhibits designed just for children. The Building Zone is a hands-on introduction to building and design and the Play Work Build exhibit explores play with an immersive installation featuring foam blocks of all sizes and shapes that can be configured in endless number of arrangements. The ground level is quite expansive with open space perfect for children who want to run, jump and play. The Building Zone requires a timed entry ticket so it's never too crowded. The National Building Museum

YogaWorks, formerly known as Tranquil Space (Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.) -

This is just for the mamas with little ones who are just two weeks old to pre-crawling. This baby and me yoga class was so necessary to me during the fourth trimester (postpartum period). In addition to the gentle vinyasa yoga with other mamas, instructors guide you through structured play with your babies that encourage and aid in their movement, digestion and relaxation. I've made dear friends through my connection to this studio and I was thankful for the peace and strength the prenatal yoga classes brought me during both pregnancies. If you recently became a mama or have baby that isn’t crawling, you can’t miss the baby and me yoga class at Tranquil Space. They also offer kids yoga classes for the [big] kid yogi in your life. YogaWorks (formerly known as Tranquil Space)

I always feel so refreshed (and exhausted at the same time) when I’ve gotten out the house for some fun and fresh air with the girls. At the end of the day, I just want them to have a good time (and to go to sleep at bedtime, ha!) and not drive myself crazy in a play space with tons of obnoxious flashing lights and annoying music on repeat. Get out and have some fun with your happy little one, mama!